The layman’s guide to salvaging bitcoins in the era of Chicom miner monopoly.

In case you’re not quite up to speed, there’s war afoot on the Bitcoin network : the Chinese/Chicom miners now control over 50% of the network’s hashratei and are using their unrivalable position to collude in targetting both businesses and individuals by withholding transactions and blocks.ii In essence : the network has been quietly perverted from protocol to promise.

About a month ago, I found myself at the brunt end of this subtle, silent forking away from Bitcoin’s core pillars – fungibility and freedom – that have defined both the network and its resident token to date. At the time, in a state of apparent crisis, I wrongly attributed the mishap to my lamentable, objectionable, and downright reprehensible use of bitcoinj and its non-verifying papier mache. But that a jew, one who would’ve surely been classified as being “on the spectrum” had he just been born a decade or two later, came to blame himself for the faults of the world, just so he could bask in self-loathing for an undeserved moment, is perhaps not surprising, but nor did it make my gut instinct correct. So while the upside of that little rapefest was undeniably positive, and although I managed to extract my privkeys from purgatory after just a handful of sleepless nights, honestly worrying that I’d deepspaced dozens of bitcoins for my sins, and after a whole whack of version testing, fee fiddling, IP space exploration, and other experiments, there’s no reason that you should repeat my mistakes, particularly now that we actually know what the problem is ! Only a fool learns from his own mistakes, the wise man learns from the mistakes of others, and all that.

So what’s a layman to do, say one that’s the recent beneficiary of a BitBet payout and who now finds themselves “blackholed” and on the wrong side of the Chicom Cartel ? These three things :

  • Export privkeysiii
  • Import privkeysiv
  • Send coins to TRB or other trusted wallet.v

That’s it. The size of the possible address space in Bitcoin means that even the seemingly omnipotent Chicom Cartel will yield to the realities of taint eventually. Even if they can trace a few addresses for a little while, there are ways to slip their nooses.vi Yes, it’s rude, it’s crude, it’s makeshift, it’s “hacky,” it’s unfortunate, it’s undesirable, and hell, it’s maybe even downright tragic, but this is, in my experience, a relatively efficient, relatively pain-free, relatively low-risk,vii and highly effective solution to the current conundrum. Sometimes, when life throws up roadblocks, you just have to circrumvent circumverate give ‘er the ol’ reach-around, y’know ?viii

Bitcoin has rightly been compared to fine art in the past, and justifiably so, but that doesn’t make the present proximity between a transaction with the cryptocurrency and a transaction of a work of art completed by the Picasso any more comfortable. But as the friction, cost, stress, necessary precaution, and public nature of transactions has reached the digital economy equivalent of Sotheby’s in some domains, desperate times call for certifiably weird measures.

Perhaps this is the ultimate end of all scarce and valuable commodities : to be encumbered by monumental, Samsonian shackles, the likes of which can never be wrested free from lest the whole temple come a tumblin’ down…

But only perhaps ! Only perhaps.

___ ___ ___

  1. 1,147,844,035 GH/s at the moment, which is currently divided into roughly 16% for BTCC Pool, 21% for AntPool, and 27% for F2Pool. Note how much this distribution has changed since June 2015! []
  2. One notable business belonging to TMSR~ – BitBet, the prediction market – has already suspended payouts on account of the seemingly dire predicament they find themselves in.

    As I was penning this piece, I was about to suggest that readers refrain from using BitBet at this time, but my humble suggestion was apparently, if unsurprisingly, entirely unnecessary, as prompt action was taken by BitBet, whose service I shall miss using until the waters clear up again. []

  3. Using, eg. dumpprivkey if using bitcoind ; Export Private Keys without a password and opening the resulting file in a text editor if using MultiBit ; or perhaps other methods depending on your particular wallet. []
  4. If you absolutely must, use blockchain.info’s webwallet, into which you’ll copy and paste your privkeys, but you’re obviously far better off using funky’s vpatch, which allows for privkey importation into TRB. Of the two “solutions” therefore proposed, only this latter one keeps your privkeys in your personal control at all times AND negates any issues (ie. >10 minutes of counterparty risk) with incoming payments at potentially unpredictable points down the road. From TRB, you can still send coins to cold storage (ie. paper wallet) should you not plan to use them for a spell.  []
  5. TRB = The Real Bitcoin Foundation. Their latest release, 99995 K can be found here and you’re encouraged to use it over absolutely any PRB implementations if you value your savings and your liberty. Furthermore, you’re still in no way and under no circumstances encouraged to use Coinbase, Trezor, or an exchange wallet. Use a paper wallet if nothing else! []
  6. As you can see, those that suffer the most from this current state of affairs are the Bitcoin-based businesses aiming to leverage the transparent nature of Bitcoin transactions into a demonstration of good faith.

    Users are still free, even encouraged to PGP addresses to one another. Plaintext transmission of addresses probably isn’t the end of the world, but playing minesweeper at the bar isn’t a guaranteed disaster either. Until it is. And if there’s any take-home from this little debacle, it’s that you really can’t be too careful with the future of the free world and the currency that it rests upon. []

  7. At least in the sense that your coins are only in SV‘s hands for a confirmation at most. On the other hand, on the off-chance that you’re expecting any more payments to those wiped addresses, you’d be well advised to write down the webwallet credentials and store them in a secure place. Don’t treat this webwallet like a complete throw-away. Just in case! Just use the TRB importprivkey and be done with it. Unless TRB is too hard for you, in which case, what choice do you really have ? []
  8. Where there’s a will, there’s a way! []

13 thoughts on “The layman’s guide to salvaging bitcoins in the era of Chicom miner monopoly.

  1. For so long as 2+ parties have the privkey, you have the counterparty risk.

    • Assuming that you never receive another payment to the impacted privkey, an average of 10 minutes of counterparty risk is a small price to pay for unlocking your treasure chest.

      P.S. Granted, the “never receive another payment” part can’t be readily ensured.

  2. funkestein_the_dwarf says:

    Kudos, you got my attention for three minutes? Just in case somebody doesn’t know this: sign a TX yourself (using a caged box if you like) and then submit the signed TX – to bc.i or other service – or direct to miners. There’s never an advantage to compromising your privkey. In contrast the absurd story of miner collusion you could have your reasons for, though I cannot fathom them.

  3. Matt Dacosta says:

    Before you start amassing virtual wealth, though, here’s a guide for unraveling some of the puzzles of Bitcoin.

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